Doubt

Just a little bit about self-doubt

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I’m at this really curious spot in my life. I feel like I’m on the precipice of cliff – not figuratively but you know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you look over a cliff or a building, I have that feeling – and I am so full of fear. What makes this curious is that most people when they stand over a cliff, a literal or figurative one, they know they can pull themselves back. They know they won’t go over. I’m exactly the opposite of that feeling, not so much as I know I can’t pull myself back, but I know I’m going to go over. I’ve already decided to throw myself into a valley of unpredictability and unknown paths. I’ve always been someone to embrace change, to even seek it out, I like letting life hit me with whatever it has and not planning out my future. But right now, this isn’t just about life hitting me, it’s me being whoever I am. Do I get to pick that? Am I already somebody that can’t be changed much? That will suck because there are parts of me that I definitely hate. In my own head I feel a need to define myself. I’m hung up, though. Hung up on the person I’ve been in the past, the person who I’ve always thought I should be, and the person I want to be. Those three people all have intersecting lines in some places, but it’s hard to determine if I can be anything I want to be, there’s a good chance I’m very limited in who I can be.

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I sometimes annoy myself. I’ll sit at home, or in the middle of a group of friends or strangers and I’ll think about these kinds of things. Is what I’m doing a reflection of the person I want to be? That’s annoying because I look at other people around me or think about other people not around me and wonder how much they think about themselves like that. It’s not that I think analyzing myself is a bad thing, but I feel like it’s such a complicated way to live life. I can see that some other people just aren’t capable of thinking of themselves that way. The choices they make in life reflect a desire to please themselves or a few close people around them, and they take whatever path offers the least resistance. They aren’t filled with existential or complicated questions about themselves, about who they are or who they want to be. They just live life. All of this type of thinking represents a feeling of doubt. Doubt of who I am. Doubt of the things I do. Doubt is a character trait that is probably the least attractive trait to other people. People like confidence. Doubt is the absence of that.

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I know a lot about confidence because I can tell you within a couple days of when I first felt it. I was 15 years old. I had just spent a summer being a camp counsellor. My big energy, weird mannerisms and desire to do just about anything someone wouldn’t expect was perfect for a summer camp filled with other teenage counsellors. Weird kids are cool kids at camp. Sadly, going from 5’8″ and 200 lbs to 6’2″ and 160 lbs in about six weeks that summer probably had a huge impact on people wanting to be my friend as well. People really took interest in me and thought I was funny and for the first time in my life I felt like I had friends that wanted to be my friends and not just because I forced myself into their life. Going back to school in September that year, people didn’t really recognize me. I don’t blame because even my parents walked right past me when they came to pick me up at the end of camp that year. Not recognizing me probably contributed to why I was treated differently at first. That first day back was really different than any other day I had at high school. People were saying ‘hi’ to me when I didn’t even think they knew my name. The second day back at school, I had this really strange feeling that I hadn’t really felt before. It wasn’t just like the absence of fear, I had that a lot because I learned to give zero fucks about what anyone thought of me from a pretty young age. If I cared what other people thought I might have committed suicide in grade 4. This feeling wasn’t just not giving a fuck, it was pretty foreign and I’d come to know that feeling was confidence. I was proud of myself and happy, and I thought I could pretty much just do what I thought I wanted to do. I have friends that I think have this feeling more often than they don’t. And I admire that about them. If I could create that feeling inside me, I would. There are lots of reasons why I don’t think that feeling can be created. Lots of reasons why I don’t have that feeling more often than I do.

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This lack of confidence affects pretty much everything I do. In my career I learned to have confidence because if you don’t, you’re worthless. In a busy restaurant or theatre you need to make a decision on the fly as a manager. You make your decision and stick to it no mater what. When things slow down, then you analyze your decision and learn from it if it was a poor choice. Life isn’t like a job, though. The stakes are much higher. Jobs at the end of day all just come down to money, and I couldn’t care less about that, it’s a fleeting material thing that is temporary. Life is all about people and the relationships you have with them. Feelings and emotions may be temporary too, but they are carried and remembered. The following example is not the only result of not having confidence, but it reflects my desire to treat everyone with the respect they deserve to make their own choices. Here’s what I mean by that. I was recently in Las Vegas and went to a couple pretty upscale clubs while I was there. Me being me, I didn’t just drink my weight in alcohol and do crazy shit. The first club I went to, I was so curious about how Vegas clubs differed from other ones, the answer is; they don’t a lot. But the one major difference is shitty dressed dudes don’t get in, they don’t even get in line. I was surrounded by a few hundred people who were all really attractive, guys and girls. What I saw the guys do there is something I see in every club, but I saw it happening on a much more massive scale. Guy walks up to a girl that he clearly doesn’t know, they talk and/or dance for a minute or two and then they guy just starts making out with her and the girl is into it. That’s confidence. Guys that can do that, which was most of them, are so confident with themselves that they can do that, and girls see the confidence and are attracted to it, even if they have no intention of ever seeing the guy after breakfast the next day. To me, those guys are douchebags. It represents a lack of respect for themselves and for the girl. I’m not one to judge and say they are bad people. For both the guy and girl, if doing that makes them both happy, go nuts and be happy. To me, I would have to disrespect myself a lot to do that. I would also have to disrespect the girl to do that. As I write this, I wonder if these people who do that are the same, they disrespect themselves and that’s why they do that too. For some I’m sure it’s the case, for most I doubt it is.

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That’s a really long way to link to my main point of standing at the edge of this cliff I’m on. My lack of confidence manifests itself in these big decisions in my life as well, as well as small ones. I think I know what’s good for me, 100%. But hey, what if I’m wrong and this is awful for me and turns out to be the worst thing ever? I can’t be sure about anything I decide to do and that drives people away from me (don’t tell me it doesn’t because I know for a fact that it does). I’m just not sure when I get to the point of figuring out the person that I want to be, if I’m going to be able to commit to that. Commit to myself. That’s probably the hardest commitment to make in life. You’re going to be the only person you let down, and you’re also the only person to keep yourself on track.

But at least I’m still standing, full of fear, void of any confidence in what falling means for me but I’m standing. I’m not hiding, there’s no camouflage here, I’m exposed and I’ll be exposed to those who care enough to get close enough to see.

Ben

 

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